High Quality Coffee in Small Town Kentucky
Recently I happened to find myself in the small town of Campbellsville, Kentucky (population 11,000). All the locals raved about THE place they like to go for a great cuppa. So I ventured downtown to Harden Coffee to see for myself what all the fuss was all about. I’m very glad I did!
Owners Justin and Kendal Harden love great coffee (BOOM! My new BFF’s in Kentucky!) A brief stint working at the upscale grocery store Dean & DeLuca in Kansas City gave the couple direct insight into a food, wine, and coffee scene they personally loved. But freshly roasted beans weren’t available in their hometown of Campbellsville. They didn’t want to shell out big bucks for a delivery service, though. (The fellow cheapskate within me is nodding in sad commiseration.) So in 2010, they took matters into their own hands and started roasting coffee beans on their back porch. It was the perfect solution, of course! Their burgeoning coffee business went from the back porch to a local health food store before settling in their present location in 2014.
The town’s charming historic district affords a ton of nostalgia. The building Harden Coffee calls home is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The shop’s ornate ceilings, enormous windows, and well-worn hardwood floors are simply gorgeous. The picturesque structure dates to circa 1893, and was originally referred to as the Chandler Hotel.
The family also owns and operates Brothers Restaurant, a barbecue joint just a few doors down from the coffee shop. As if that’s not enough, the family also owns a local vineyard with the best tongue-in-cheek name ever: Heritage at Kentuscany. (I made sure to grab a bottle of the red before leaving town; it was superb!)
Since it was late in the evening when I finally made my way to the shop, I ordered a decaf Americano. It was absolutely delicious, with a fresh, deep flavor rivaling any big-city coffee I’ve tasted. It had a rich, almost smoky flavor that was just right.
Multiple patrons in the shop raved about the flavor of this beverage. I’m so bummed that it was out of season during my visit! But the next time I swing by Campbellsville, I’ll definitely grab a few bottles for the road. It’s a true cold-brew, crafted in a time-consuming process that extracts unique (never bitter) flavors from the magical coffee bean. This kind of intense flavor simply can’t be replicated with hot-water brewing, and the folks at Harden Coffee have bottled the delicious results.
Did you know that Kentucky produces ninety-five percent of America’s bourbon? It’s fitting that this little shop offers a couple of nice bourbons as well as beer and other cocktail items. Bourbon (also called bourbon whiskey) is a type of American whiskey, a distilled spirit made primarily from corn and aged in barrels. Dozens of different bourbons are made in Kentucky, and we were quite pleased with the Four Roses Yellow blended bourbon offered at Harden Coffee. The flavor was warm, subtle, and rich with hints of vanilla.
Small Plates and Treats
We had to have a sweet snack to accompany our drinks, and we chose a chocolate and orange pot de crème with Chantilly crème. OH MY GOODNESS. Heaven in a glass.
It took everything in me to NOT lick the bowl. Rich, decadent, and not too sweet: it was scrumptious! Harden Coffee sells a variety of delightful sweet treats made fresh by the in-house pastry chef. Several different types of savory and small-bite menu items are also available daily. The shop offers all the traditional coffee and tea drinks you’d expect from a high quality café. They also sell coffee preparation supplies like Chemex systems. Check out the shop’s gift selection here. They even have a coffee subscription service available in which you can sign up for roaster-to-door delivery every two weeks.
The atmosphere of the coffee shop was lively and welcoming. Laptop-laden college students from Campbellsville University chat side by side with baby-wearing mamas, young couples, big families, and local business owners. This well-loved café has become an integral part of the close-knit Campbellsville community. The walls are decorated with high quality are created by a local artist, too. The pieces on display are available for purchase if you see one that tickles your fancy.
And a special shout out goes to Stephen, barista extraordinaire and patient instructor of all things bourbon.
Campbellsville is lucky to have a family who loves to pursue culinary passion with such excellence. A good strong brew, warm bourbon, and delicious barbecue all in a charming vintage location…. what else could you need?